Moh Khory Alfarizi, Jakarta – Internet connection in Papua, especially in Jayapura City and Regency and its surrounding areas have been totally down since Saturday, May 1, 2021. At present, the communication activities can only be carried out through short message services (SMS), phone lines, Single Side Band (SSB) radio, and Handy Talky (HT).
"The internet is still down. We change our cell phone settings to a 2G connection which is only for SMS and calls," said a resident of Jayapura City Hari Suroto to Tempo via SMS on Sunday, May 16, 2021.
Many Papuans now relied on and migrated back to SMS, which was considered cheaper than using a phone line. People also used SSB radio for communication. However, Hari said it was only available at district offices, the military district level (Koramil) posts, sector police posts, and airport operating offices with a predetermined frequency.
"People having a need can come to those offices to send messages," said Hari who is also an archaeologist in Papua Archeology Center.
General Manager Network Operations & Quality Management of cellular operator Telkomsel, Adi Wibowo, confirmed the internet outage was caused by the repair of submarine optical cables.
"There is the maintenance of the Sulawesi Maluku Papua Cable System (SMPCS) of PT Telkom for the Biak-Sarmi segment on Friday, April 30," said Adi in a written statement on Tuesday, May 4.
Adi added that Telkomsel along with its parent firm PT Telkom Indonesia offered an apology and pledged to accelerate the recovery of its services.
Communication and Information Minister Johnny G. Plate in a written statement on Friday, May 14, meanwhile, confirmed that the restoration of internet connection in Papua could be fully completed in June.